All posts tagged: Church

25 | A failure to equip?

In this podcast entitled A Failure to Equip, I want to talk about a major shift that needs to take place in the church and its strange connection to square dancing.
Yes, I am talking about the “dosado, allemande right” square dancing.

Who is the Jewish Messiah — Jesus or Rabbi Schneerson?

There is an interesting story on Breaking Israel News (BIN) of how a group of Orthodox Jews from an organization called the Yad L’Achim recently prevented a Christian missionary group from baptizing several Jews in the Sea of Galilee. There was no mention of  the name of the Christian organization. The plan was to transport the Jews from Tel Aviv to Tiberias for the baptism. According to BIN the organization decided to baptize the Jews on the sabbath believing it would hinder any opposition as the Old Testament law limits travel on the sabbath for Orthodox Jews. But apparently there was away around it, or they just ignored the prohibition against travel and about 15 students who attended a Yad L’Achim religious school in Tel Aviv made their way to the spot that the Jews were preparing to load a bus to Tiberias. Some orthodox Jews were wearing shirts, “Jew stop! Christianity is not our way.” There was a bit of a confrontation at the bus between the missionaries and the members of Yad L’Achim …

Pay to Pray: Can We Afford God?

I have just spent some time in an isolated northern city where real estate is too expensive. All the churches are small, and I think there is a mosque and a Sikh temple. I’m not sure about the religious buildings because they are all small, and easy to miss. A big building costs millions. Next to the house where I stayed is a house church. It looks to me like one church operates out of the members houses, and it seems to be doing well. One church petitioned the city to take over some park land and change it to a parking lot. They wanted the land for free, but they promised to invest more than a million dollars. I understand the mayor attends that church, and you can imagine the angry debate in the community. I heard yesterday that the church had withdrawn the request. So, how do we worship God when a parking lot costs a million dollars? And how do we pay the salaries for pastors, so they can support their families? …

Church in Hishult, Sweden Credit: Jacob Surland/Flickr/Creative Commons

Where Is the Love?

Cue Black Eyed Peas I always seem to get a giddy feeling when I see competitive sports with good sportsmanship. Something about the opposing team helping their opposition up off the ground, giving acknowledgement when someone makes a good play against you, or giving a high-five after a solid punch to the face. Granted, it’s not a very common occurrence, but I absolutely love to see that type of comradery from the opposition. But then, the question begs to be asked: Why do we lack this type of behavior in the church? I don’t mean to say that it doesn’t exist, but nearly every church has seen some kind of separation through its years. I haven’t seen anything extreme, but I’ve heard of people getting worked up enough over the music or seating arrangement that they feel the need to find a new home for Sunday morning. A couple of years ago, I did see some division in my home church. While I won’t get into the specifics of what went on, one of the …

Credit: Sydney Daoust/Flickr/Creative Commons

Oh, you are such a loser!

A new buzz word in pop psychology is “vulnerable.” There is some good advice out there, and this idea can be good for us. If I looked at you and said “loser!” I would be rude, and you would take that as an insult. We learned that in elementary school. So, “loser!” I just called you a loser, and you can say the same to me. If we are not losers, we are failures. Every Christian should know the words in the Bible “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) That is the bedrock of our Christian faith. Jesus made it right, after we made it wrong. A few days ago, I had a meeting with an old friend. We talked about business and we also had time to catch up on our personal stories, like old friends. This man is a Christian, my brother in Christ, and he described himself as …

Credit: EBCanon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 3

Here is one of the best secrets for managing your generosity and giving of money: Don’t. If you spend any time among religious people, you will be asked for money. When I go to church on Sunday, there is always an offering, a time when all other business stops and the ushers collect money from us. I have lived with this all my life and I have an acquired immunity, but some people who come with me are offended and disoriented. What will God think about them if they don’t give enough? So, don’t give. The exercise will be good for you. Yesterday I was walking in the mall. It’s not really my place but I had a meeting with someone. At an intersection in the walkways, I saw a display booth with two young women looking hopeful. They represented one of those Christian charities that sponsor children and they were looking for sponsors. I won’t name the organization, but there are several and they do very good work. What bothered me was all the …

There are no racial barriers in God’s church

I don’t think we fully appreciate the significance of what happened when the Holy Spirit fell upon a group of gentiles as Peter was preaching in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48). It took a vision for Peter, where God declared a number of animals clean, and an angelic visit for Cornelius to get these two groups together. After the Holy Spirit fell, it caused such a controversy in the early church they called a meeting to figure out what do to with the hundreds of gentiles becoming Christians. But a few Bible verses and even archaeology provide a hint of what a radical change this was for the early church that was initially made up of solely Jews. In 1871 a stone slab from the Jewish Temple that existed in Jesus day was discovered by archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. On the slab written in Greek was: “No foreigner is allowed to enter the courtyard and enclosure surrounding the temple. Whoever is caught will be responsible to himself for his death, which will ensue.” Greek was …

Roof of booths set up in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles Credit: Yoninah/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Converging end times prophecies of Orthodox Jews and Christians

Breaking Israel News (BIN) has always been a source of interesting articles. Published by a group of Orthodox Jews, I find that they have much in common with Christians. They believe the Old Testament is the inspired Word of God and though they reject Jesus as the Messiah, they nevertheless are looking ahead to the coming Jewish Messiah. And while we look at events taking place on earth as a sign of Jesus second return, they interpret many of those same signs as evidence of the Jewish Messiah’s coming. Recently BIN published an article listing five Biblical prophecies fulfilled in 2017 that pointed to the soon arrival of the Jewish Messiah. In her article, Eliana Rudee the first one she discusses is: “Jerusalem as a place of assembly for non-Jews.” There were a number of Old Testament prophecies that spoke of the gentiles pouring into Israel at the end of the age. In her article, Rudee cites a verse out of Zechariah: 16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the …

Polwarth, England Credit: Hamish Irvine/Flickr/Creative commons

The Critical Mass: How We Can Fail

On Sunday, in church, the pastor told us about people who had been helped in the last year. He told testimonial stories about cancer patients and struggling families. And then he told us about a man who had walked into the church to learn more. He was not a Christian, but he was interested. The pastor talked to him and gave him a book, and a few weeks later the man called to say that he had decided to become a Christian. Now he attends the Sunday services as a new Christian, growing in his faith. The man’s name is Mohammed. We live in interesting times. Now Muslim majority countries are modernizing, and Muslims are migrating to other countries with high levels of personal freedom. That means people can break free from the group, and choose how they want to live. This is becoming a crisis, as some young Muslims identify as atheists. Others, like Mohammed, choose another religion. RELATED: Losing their religion: the hidden crisis of faith among Britain’s young Muslims: The Guardian The …

Ritsumazijl, Frise, Netherlands Credit: Hindrik Sijens/Flickr/Creative Commons

How far is far enough?

[by Keith Hazell] “Don’t go too far dear.”  These were frequent words that I heard from Mother when I was growing up. Usually, it was a warning that there was an unmarked perimeter that I should not pass. However, once on a beach in the UK during the Second World War, the warning was to remind me not to go under the barbed wire onto the sand where land-mines were buried. Thus to hear such a warning, is to realize that going beyond certain limits where things appear ok, can actually put us in mortal danger. One of the currents going through the church to-day questions the value and purpose of church as we have known it in the past. It is said that the church has no relevance and its meetings are no longer a place where believers can actively and meaningfully interact and express the life of Christ. There is a legitimate need to get back to a simpler form of Christian Life and to re-discover the lifestyle and benefits of a closer …

Wailing Wall in Jerusalem Credit: Fernando+Merced/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is the church actually the continuation of Israel?

It’s an age-old question. Is the church the continuation of Israel or something completely new that God started after Israel failed to fulfill God’s will? The church under this latter scenario is God’s second choice, an afterthought. To bring some perspective on this I was intrigued by an article on Breaking Israel News about a sermon recently preached by a famous Hasidic Jewish Rabbi Alon Anava. He was speaking at the 23rd anniversary of the death of another renown orthodox Rabbi, Menachem Schneerson. In his sermon Anava spoke of the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Though the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, orthodox Jews still believe in a promised Messiah. In fact, many believe signs suggest that the Jewish Messiah will be revealed very soon. But Anaya said in order for the Messiah to come, the Jews must first preach the Torah to the gentiles: “You know what is missing? The nations of the world. Now all we need to do is involve a couple billion people from the other nations to be part of the redemption.” …

Fortified bridge of the town of Besalu, Spain Credit: Mariluz Rodriguez/Flickr/Creative Commons

Evangelical church growing in Spain and France

Reading reports out of Europe, you get the impression that the Christian church is not doing well. And though it’s true the Roman Catholic and liberal churches are in decline pretty much like they are around the world, the Evangelical church is doing fine. A recent report by the Spanish Government says the Evangelical church is on the upswing in Spain. According to the Religious Plurality report released by the country’s Justice ministry, as of December 31, 2016 there are 3,910 Evangelical churches in Spain, up from 3,769 in 2015, an increase of 141. In other words, last year a new Evangelical church opened in that country every two and a half days. These numbers only included registered churches and do not include unregistered house churches or Bible study/prayer groups. The report added that the Evangelical church is also the fastest growing religion in Spain. Religion analyst Maximo Alvarez who described the increase as a “great upturn,” said the growth has been most pronounced since 2000. With 46 million people, there is still a need …

Sameba (Trinity) church in Tbillsi, Georgia Credit: Berdo Maghularia/Flickr/Creative Commons

One More Way to Kill a Church

This is my fourth time to write about how to kill a church, and I think this is enough; I don’t want to get morbid. But it is simply true that success or failure depends on us. God hasn’t moved, and “Trust and obey” is still the route to great things. The world around us will never hold us back. I once heard about a new church in my city that met in a rented building downtown. Successful churches are usually in the suburbs, with Christian families and free parking, so I had to check this place out. I am still surprised; on a Sunday morning I walked into a huge auditorium filled with young adults, and they were all talking at once. Loud and lively conversations were everywhere. I didn’t have any young friends to chat with, so I sat down and waited for the service to start. As I waited, a young woman came and sat beside me, with her head turned to a conversation. I knew what was coming and I waited …

Church in Iceland Credit: washingtonnydc/Flickr/Creative Commons

Survey shows believing the Bible the key to church growth

According to survey by researchers in Ontario, Canada, churches with Conservative, Bible-based theology are the fastest growing of Christian churches. In fact, the membership numbers for churches that have rejected a literal interpretation of the Bible are in a free fall. According to the English newspaper, The Guardian, attendance at liberal mainline churches in Canada has dropped by 50% since the 1960s and in England Sunday attendance at the largely liberal Church of England has fallen by a similar percentage since the 1980s. The research team led by David Haskell described those with a “conservative Protestant theology” as the “clear winner.” In their report entitled “Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Churches” the group surveyed 2,225 people attending churches in Ontario and conducted more in-depth interviews with 195 church attendees and 29 clergy. According to The Guardian, while studies in the past concluded that theology had no impact on church growth, this survey showed it clearly did. Haskell noted that growing churches “held more firmly to the traditional beliefs of Christianity and …

Harvest time is hard work Credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Kill a Church – Part 3

The U.S.A. just had an election and the whole world is talking about it. I live in Canada, so I don’t want to add to the discussion; Americans know how to manage their own country. Before we forget though, Donald Trump surprised the world by winning, and Hillary Clinton shocked her loyal followers by losing. Before the vote, he labored to convince the doubters to vote for him, and she convinced her friends to love her more. We had the same pattern where I live in 1992; Nancy Betkowski was an educated, sophisticated woman who was going to be our provincial leader. Her rival was Ralph Klein, a journalist who drank too much. At the leadership convention Nancy went to bed knowing she had the majority vote the next day. Ralph stayed up all night working the crowd and trying to convince his enemies to vote for him. Nancy appeared for her coronation the next morning, and we were all stunned when Ralph won the vote. He missed some sleep and worked very hard, and …

A church in Egge, Norway. Credit: Gert Andreas Barring/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Kill a Church – Part 2

One man in Japan made himself famous for a few days in October. He is probably the most surprised, but a comedian named Piko Taro made a video and millions of people watched it. He is a viral one-hit wonder. There is one thing he did not do; he did not wreck the conversation. Mr Taro did some excellent teaching, even if we learned nothing. The conversation was phatic, the teacher opened the channel of communication and maintained it. You probably watched right to the end. Everything was presented well, from the lighting and camera focus, to his costume and smile, and his dance and song, and his enunciation, and more. Also, I am sure someone did some preparation. The only thing missing is a message. I am sure Mr Taro could have added an important message to his presentation, and the world would have listened. He could have convinced us of something, or asked for money. The video is now filled with other people’s promotions and additions. They will be selfish if he isn’t. …

Church in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland Credit: Glen Forde/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Kill a Church, Part 1

In the modern world, we have a culture that is dying. Follow any election news and you know what I mean. Prosperous and democratic societies are severally stressed these days. If you follow political and social commentary, you know, we listen to intelligent comments from comedians. One comedian, Norm MacDonald, tried to get serious with another comedian who made fun of Christians. But really, we don’t get intelligent comments from comedians, we get entertainment. Sometimes the comedy is intelligent, but it’s only jokes to make us laugh. Many comedians are very good at what they do, but we should be concerned about what they don’t do. If there is a problem, it’s with us. There seems to be no interest in thinking, teaching, and learning to make things better. Someone told me recently; we have this amazing Internet so we can talk to anyone in the world, about anything, and solve any problem, but we send each other funny pictures of cats behaving badly. Entertainment rules; comedians sell us what we want to buy, and …

Baltimore protests Credit: Arish Azizzada/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does the Holy Spirit want to heal the racial divide?

When a young Black man, Mark Ross, found out his sister, 15, had just been killed in a car crash, he immediately wanted to go home and be with his family. Without a car, he talked a friend into making the drive from Indiana to Detroit, Michigan. It was 3 am when they left and the troubles started when they arrived in Ohio. Police pulled over their vehicle for speeding. Unfortunately, Mark’s friend who was driving had a suspended license and police arrested him and impounded the car. Ross was distraught. He was still a hundred miles from home and now had no way to get there. But then a white police officer, Ohio State patrolman Sgt David Robison showed up. In a Facebook post, Ross explained what happened next: “I broke down crying and he saw the sincerity of my cry. He reaches over and began praying over me and my family.” But there was still one unresolved issue. Ross had an outstanding warrant with Michigan Wayne County. When Robison contacted the sheriff’s office, …

London, England Credit: Nick Kenrick/Flickr/Creative Commons

Predict the Future with Heinrich’s Triangle

Is Christianity dying? In the future, will the religion of Jesus even exist? Well, yes and no. One critical writer did an excellent job of explaining why Christianity is dying in the USA. Many years ago I led a church planting effort in a small town. Every Sunday morning I would get up early, walk to the bus depot, and ride about 100 miles to a small town. Our lowest attendance was two other people, and two cats. That happened many times, but eventually the group grew until a resident pastor could move in. But I am sorry to say, after a few years, in that very small town, the decision was made to close the church down. Imagine; all that effort for nothing! Herbert William Heinrich is one of the great pioneers of workplace safety, and many of his ideas were expressed with number ratios. He could predict your future with the numbers in his triangle ratio 300-29-1. Mr Heinrich was concerned about your chances of avoiding injury or death in the near future, …

Model of Herod's Temple at the Israel Museum. Photo: Berthold Werner/Wikipedia

What will Israel’s third temple look like?

An interesting article on Breaking Israel News (BIN) recently caught my attention. I have reported previous how some Orthodox Jews in Israel are preparing for the construction of a third Temple – the first one being Solomon’s temple and the second built by King Herod that was in place during Jesus’s day and destroyed in 70 AD. A group of Orthodox based in Israel found the The Temple Institute (TTI) in 1987 to prepare for the construction of a third temple. TTI has already made a number of temple utensils (including a massive altar), ordered architectural drawings for a new temple and even started a school to train priests in how to make sacrifices. Their desire to build a third temple is based in part on an Old Testament prophecy found in Ezekiel. In a vision, God carries the Prophet Ezekiel to a future temple that is not remotely similar to either of the two temples previously constructed (Ezekiel 40). This leads some to conclude that God intends to have a third temple built. However, …

Photo: Leonard J Matthews/Flickr/Creative Commons

How Christianity is dying …. or is it?

There is a huge debate about Christianity these days. Many people thinks it’s an antique ideology, disappearing rapidly. I don’t want to argue, but my recent experience might help. My home city used to be the Bible belt of Canada. Our provincial premier, similar to a state governor, was also a Baptist radio preacher. My brother once went to a children’s meeting at the Fundamentalist Baptist Church, and a dignified older man said hello. That was him. We also had a mention in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” for Holy Row, or Church Street, a small area with the highest concentration of churches in the world. That Ripley’s thing might be an urban legend but we all believed it. Today, that inner city street is crowded with old churches and my personal favourite is the Danish Lutheran building. Some of those churches are still open, but Holy Row not so holy now. A few years ago my church moved to some place north of the city, into cow and chicken country, and I moved south; …

Families are the happiest when attending church.

Study: Marriages are the happiest when couples attend church

A study released by the Institute of Family Studies concluded that marriages are the happiest when both members of a couple attend religious services or if the husband does. In contrast, the least happiest are those where neither person attends or the just the wife does. The study entitled Better together: Religious attendance, gender and relationship was written by W. Bradford Wilcox of University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project and Professor Nicholas Wolfinger from the University of Utah. For their report the two analyzed data from the National Survey of Religion and Family conducted in the US in 2006. After accounting for other factors such as economic well-being and education, they discovered: 78% of couples when both or just the husband attended church considered themselves “very” or “extremely” happy. 67% of couples considered themselves happy when neither attended services. Only 59% of couples said they were happy when just the wife attended religious services. The two stated that the reason they believe religious services are a contributing factor to successful relationships is because they are …

Northridge megachurch in Plymouth, Michigan. Photo: Dwight Burdette/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Study reveals weaknesses in mega churches

A study just released by Duke University revealed a concerning weakness in big churches. The larger a church becomes the more sporadic its members are when it comes to church attendance and less likely they are to volunteer. The study was conducted by David Eagle, who teaches at Duke’s Center for Health Policy and Inequalities. Eagle formerly pastored a church in Canada and it was this experience that led to his interest in conducting the study. In an interview with the Christian Post, he said while in Canada there was a major push by his denomination on church growth. He was told larger churches would result in more non-Christians attending. Eagle said: “I was skeptical of this approach, and began to think that an emphasis on growth could lead to unintended consequences — things like creating a less involved membership.” For his study he analyzed data from the National Congregations Study and the General Social Survey in the US. He compared church attendance among four major church groups — Conservative Churches, Roman Catholic, Black Protestant …

Study shows people want to experience God

One of the defining attributes of the early church in the Book of Acts is that they experienced God. Services did not consist of three hymns, announcements, offering and then for the finale a sermon. The Holy Spirit was moving in a powerful way and to  a large extent this is what caught everyone’s attention. According to  a report on CBN, a study conducted by Duke University suggests that church members today have a growing desire to experience God and it is showing up in changing church services. Called the National Congregations Study, Duke analyzed the results of three surveys of American congregations conducted in 1998, 2006-07 and then again in 2012 and noted there have been significant changes over the 14-year period. These surveys included all forms of churches —  Catholic, Evangelical and Liberal. In 2012, Evangelicals dominated the religious landscape making up 38% of the population, followed by Roman Catholic at 28%, mainline (usually liberal denominations) at 17% and Black congregations at 13%. The report stated that churches are moving away from an …

All of Israel will be saved. Photo: Haifa, Israel at sunset -- Dan Zelazo/Flickr/Creative Commons

What is the Biblical relationship between Israel and the church?

According to an article in Israel Today, just before Christmas the second most visited Hebrew internet site in Israel, Walla! News, started running a series of interviews with Messianic Jews. They had planned upwards of 24 interviews including one with a well-known Israeli actress. Even as the series started there were those such as Eitan Bar, who was also being interviewed, asking for prayer as they expected a strong reaction from Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Perhaps not surprisingly just after Christmas, Walla! News stopped the series after threats of a boycott and law suit by Ultra-Orthodox Jews. It is illegal in Israel to advertise any missionary activity and some believed these interviews broke this law. The website removed any reference to Messianic Jews as well as interviews previously posted. In many ways it represents the strained relationship that remains to this day between the Church and Israel. What is the Church’s position on Israel? One of the more prominent views, Replacement theology, believes the church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. When Israel refused to accept Jesus …

Helping the poor. Photo Fabian Bockholt/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to best help the poor

Michael Wooldridge of Muscatine, Iowa recently posted a message to Facebook about an incident that happened to his uncle referred to only as “Mike.” Mike was at a Taco Bell when he saw two men with signs asking for financial help. According to Wooldridge, Mike, who is also a businessman, decided instead of giving these two fellows financial assistance would provide them jobs. However, when he extended the offer the two men turned him down and continued to beg for money. Mike was shocked by their response. So he left, created his own sign, returned and stood behind these two young men with his sign that read: “Offered these guys a job. They said no. Don’t give money.” Angered the two men moved to a different location and Mike apparently joined them there. Eventually the two left. Of course the Facebook comments predictably went one of two directions those who applauded Mike and others who felt sorry for the young men begging for money. What is the Biblical response to this type of situation? As …

Sidokarto, Indonesia Photo: Jose Javier Martin Espartosa/Flickr

Burning Churches

Recently, Muslim extremists in Indonesia have been burning Christian churches. This is news around the world, and it seems to be another example of Muslim intolerance, but I think there is a hidden story here. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country. It’s interesting that the second largest Muslim population is in India. The mostly Hindu population of India is so large, that close to 200,000,000 Muslims are a minority. Asia is amazing. Indonesia also has close to 200,000,000 Muslims, with large minorities of Christians, Buddhists, Confucianists, and Hindus. Hindus dominate the island of Bali. The country is a democracy, and the government strives for unity. And until recently, Muslims in Indonesia were known as tolerant and inclusive. The most northern province of Indonesia is Aceh, a conservative Muslim region where Sharia law is imposed on everyone, including Christians. That’s where churches are being burned. Religious divisions could lead to civil war. In July a mosque was burned in Papua, which is predominantly Christian, and the nations largest province. In Aceh, Christians defended …

Photo Trent Roche/Flickr

European study shows faith and church attendance key to happiness

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology faith plays a key role in warding off depression and in providing “sustained happiness.” In their study reported by NBC, researchers with the University Medical Center in Holland and the London School of Economics compared the involvements of 9,000 Europeans aged 50 and over across 10 countries to find out what activities produced the best emotional benefit. The four areas compared included participation in religious organizations, political or community organizations,  charity groups and taking educational classes. The researchers found that only one — involvement in religious organizations — produced “sustained happiness” in the people studied. The study also showed that church participation gave people a sense of fulfillment and purpose and enabled people to make lifestyle choices that bettered their life. They also found the benefit extended across all countries included in the study. They even noticed a reduction in depression symptoms over a four-year period through increased church attendance. However, the research team was unable to find if it was faith in God …

Unusual church building in the middle of the Indonesian jungle created after “a vision from God”

In 1989, Daniel Alamsjah, now 67, was working in Jakarta, Indonesia when he received ‘a vision from God’ to build a unique Christian prayer house in that predominately Muslim country. The result is an enchanting structure buried in the middle of an Indonesian jungle. In an interview with Jakarta Globe, Daniel said a few months after the vision he was walking with his family through a jungle 342 miles away near Magelang, Central Java, where his wife’s family lives, when he saw the same landscape he had seen in his vision. “I prayed all night there, and I got the revelation that I must build the prayer house in that spot.” Daniel initially fought building the structure: “‘God, I’m no priest, this is not my place. I’m not a fundamentalist. I’m just a devout practicing Christian,’ I thought to myself at the time. Another reason for my hesitation was financial—I didn’t have a lot of money.” Not a rich man, it took Daniel four years to pay off the $170 needed to buy the property from …

The Christian Magna Carta?

[by Dean Smith] This year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the English Magna Carta heralded as one of the key foundation stones of the modern liberties we enjoy in the Western world. The original charter drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, and signed by the unpopular King John on June 15, 1215 sought to bring peace between the monarch and a group of barons. England was on the verge of a civil war and the Charter was essentially a peace treaty. Referred to as The Great Charter or The Great Charter of Liberties, historians consider it the major turning point in medieval history that reduced the absolute power of the king eventually paving the way for democracy.

A ‘Divine wind’ or slippery slope?

[by Dean Smith] Stan Mitchell, 46, says he is being moved along by a Divine wind, others suspect the movement is coming from his proverbial slide down a slippery slope. Mitchell is pastor of GracePointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee and though he considers himself an Evangelical others question that claim. The church recently announced that homosexuals and others “living in sin” will now be able to serve in leadership positions in the church. He added the church will also marry homosexual couples.

Maryland county tells churches to preach global warming gospel to avoid “rain tax”

[by Dean Smith] In 2013, the State of Maryland in the USA passed a controversial law that taxed homes, businesses and churches for any run off water caused by their roofs, parking lots, driveways and sidewalks. Called the “rainwater remediation fee’ or more commonly the “rain tax,” it has proven extremely unpopular. Many suggest this tax helped elect Republican Larry Hogan as state governor in November 2014. Hogan who will take power on January 21, 2015 promised to repeal the tax if elected. Meanwhile, Maryland’s Prince George County said it’s willing to exempt church from paying this tax — about $744 a year on average — if they are willing to preach an environmental, green gospel.

Survey reveals growing concern about religion’s declining influence in America

A recent survey by Pew Research Center shows that most Americans believe religion is losing its influence on the public stage including politics and that they are concerned because of this. Pew has asked this question since 2001. That year, 51% of Americans believed religious influence was on the decline. In 2014, this number had jumped by nearly 25%. Today, 72% of Americans believe religious influence on public life is on the decline. However, while they watch this decline of religious influence, a very different culture is forming and most Americans don’t like what they are seeing. Increasingly, Americans are of the opinion the church should play a bigger role in politics and social issues. Pew said in its release, there is a “growing appetite for religion in politics.”

Time to pray: The church is under attack on multiple fronts

Fox 91 reports that three churches in Columbus, Indiana were vandalized with verse citations from the Qur’an spray-painted on their walls. They seem to be a direct attack on the Christian faith by Muslim extremists in the area. The three vandalized churches included the St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, the East Columbus Christian Church and the Lakeview Church of Christ. St. Bartholomew’s church had the verse reference “Qur’an 3:151” sprayed on its wall in black paint. The verse reads:

The Other Side of Mars Hill

One of the best known “mega” churches in our times is the Mars Hill Church in Seattle Washington, U.S.A. Recently the news has been bad. The church has become so infamous that Google Search has a search category “The Mars Hill Controversy.” Something must be wrong when Google doesn A random Internet search of the church’s name produced these titles: [Pastor Mark] Driscoll to take break from Mars Hill pulpit Why the Mars Hill Faithful Have Started to Question Mark Church or Cult? The Control-Freaky Ways of Mars Hill Church A Shunning in Seattle: A powerful megachurch’s harsh tactics raise questions about how much control churches should have over their members’ lives. Worst Guy Ever Alert: Beware of Horrible Hipster Pastor Mark Driscoll Protesters Call For Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Resignation After Multiple Scandals At Mars Hill Church Controversy is now the news from Mars Hill Church.